The General Assembly (GA) is an annual meeting which consists of full subscription members of ARBCA churches. The attendees of the GA, in the ARBCA constitution, are referred to as “messengers,” or members in good standing who subscribe fully to the Second London Confession. The ARBCA constitution reads:
Messengers from member churches will convene at least once a year for a General Assembly. Ordinarily notice will be given to all member churches as to time, place and purpose at least ninety days in advance. Prior to the meeting member churches shall receive copies of any agenda to be proposed and names of nominees for the Administrative Council. Emergency sessions may be called by the Council, in which case all member churches must be notified at least thirty days in advance.
The messengers are representatives of each church within ARBCA, and so the GA may be thought of a s a representative assembly, although it is encouraged within ARBCA for churches to send as many eligible members as possible. However, since every church is to have an equal voice at the GA, each congregation “may appoint two men, who hold to full subscription to our Confession, who are or have been church officers of that particular congregation, as voting messengers at General Assembly.”
It is at the GA where decisions are made which could affect major policies, amend the constitution of the association, and even result in doctrinal changes. Yet, these decisions are not made by a governing body at the top of the food chain, so to speak. They are made by the representatives sent from each and every local church in ARBCA. This is important when considering the definition of the association. The association lives and moves according to the informed decisions of eligible representatives at the GA, sent by each local church. ARBCA, therefore, is not the administrative council, or anything else other than the local churches that make it up.